Straddie – this trip for me can be summed up in one word. SMELLY! Let’s just say Chris won’t be eating salami and sleeping in the rooftop again any time soon. It’s making my brain work overtime to gain enough oxygen to think straight so I can write! My goodness – sorry. That wasn’t how this blog was meant to begin. Ok, let’s start again …
It’s been back to back adventures for us lately with the Adventure Bash at Imbil wrapping up 4 days ago, Chris and I working just 3 days (technically 4 for me as I had to teach a Zumba class this morning) and now here we are at North Straddie, parked on the sand listening to the waves crashing around us.
It’s been many years since we’ve been to North Stradbroke Island, and we felt it was time to revisit this slice of Queensland holiday paradise.
Last time we came I was fairly new to Queensland and Chris brought me over to show me around. We had recently sold off our camp gear and were in the process of researching camper trailers, so we booked an apartment (what a foreign concept these days!) and spent our time exploring in the old black Hilux we were driving at the time.
Before we got together Chris used to come over every year for the Straddie Assault, a surf comp that attracted a large number of local surfers and spectators. He tells me stories of what the old Point Lookout Pub was like (apparently it had so much more character ‘back in the day’, and then the bowls club was ‘the spot’ to go for dinner).
Thanks to all those visits, he knows his way around, and lucky for me – he can take me straight to the best bits! That’s what he did last time and I can remember falling in love with the place as I saw whales and turtles in the crystal clear water under the endless blue skies.
The old 2005 Hilux
Us … 6 years ago!
We were lucky to make it onto the 3:00 barge as we’d forgotten to declare that we are over 2.2m in height and the barge was fully booked. We waited in the far left lane behind another 4WD (aka leaning tower of camp gear) who had done the same thing. Talk about an entertaining half hour wait! We watched as he unpacked bikes, scooters, ladders, boxes, tarps etc in what appeared to be an attempt to reduce the height, only for him to wind up with an even higher pile of stuff up top.
It’s a fairly quick, quite spectacular 45 minute trip through Moreton Bay as you head South East from Cleveland towards Coochiemudlow Island to avoid the shallow waters, then make a sharp left and head East/North East passing Peel Island and into Dunwich.
The great weather, calm waters, blue skies and sun dropping low behind us set the perfect scene for a GoPro Fusion (360) shot. We love this camera so much, it produces the most insane footage!
Before long we were on the island (with Chris pointing out the bakery and reminiscing about how ‘epic’ it was as we drove past), heading directly East driving past the golf course, Brown Lake and Blue Lake, onto the short gravel road and straight onto the beach from the access track stopping only to let the tyres down.
The bright yellow westerly sun, misty ocean spray coming off the water and kangaroos on the dunes watching us drive past instantly reduced our stress levels as the ‘real world’ started to fade from our minds.
In less than 10 minutes we’d found our spot and just 8 minutes later the Alucab rooftop tent was up and the Batwing awning was out. I love this set up! It’s so quick and easy.
Chris grabbed his first Big Head and we took our camp chairs to the edge of the dune where we sat and watched some playful whales splashing around out behind the swell. The sky turned a dusty pink in front of us while the brilliant yellow sun set behind the dunes at our backs.
We had a platter (which included the chilli salami that Chris will not be eating ever again!) and relaxed until we realised how many mozzies were buzzing around. It’s quite strange to see so many this time of year, especially with the cooler temps. We got out the ego insect repellent (all natural of course) and sprayed ourselves and then set about cooking the lamb chops.
It was dinner, dishes and a quick tidy up as rain was expected over the weekend, and we weren’t sure when or how much. We climbed up into the rooftop where I began to write, and Chris began (and continued) to gas me out.
One of my favourite parts of getting away is that both of us like to go to bed not long after the sun goes down and get up when the sun rises. It’s proven that people are much healthier and happier when we live like this, and we don’t need the studies to show us! We feel it within a couple of days. We are pretty good at home with early nights and early mornings but climbing into bed as early as 7:30pm is usually something that happens when we are away from home.
Night one was spent listening to the waves, anxiously waiting to see what the next day would bring (hopefully not the gusty winds, rain and thunderstorm that was predicted!).
I peeked out of the window about 8pm and what looked like a full moon was shining brightly over the ocean and in through our window. The stars were scattered across the sky and there was a gentle breeze.
We woke with smiles on our faces as the sun came up and set the scene for a magnificent day.
It was warm, sunny and there wasn’t much wind until later in the afternoon. We had planned to head off exploring, but sometimes it’s nice to just ‘be’. So that’s what we did. We had brekkie, then set off on a 5k walk. The rest of the day was spent relaxing (in our KNOBBYs!), getting our tan on and watching the odd 4WD get bogged.
This VW was highly entertaining! They got bogged so the guy camped next to us headed down with his maxtrax to help. In the second pic it looks like Chris was going to help as well, but that’s an illusion! He was just wandering down the beach to wash his hair. Haha – you should have seen him dancing around! Turns out the bogged VW didn’t want help anyway as they sent everyone away and dropped their tyre pressure. At the end someone came down and tried to get it up the access track. They failed and went to the next one. It was all quite amusing 🙂
What would a blog post be without a few good KNOBBYs pics? 🙂
Afternoon entertainment 😉
The winds picked up in the afternoon and Chris was getting storm warnings coming through as his phone went in and out of reception. We managed to pull up the local radar and could see some pretty impressive systems going on around us.
The couple parked next to us had spent the day over at Flinders Beach on the other side of the island and came back saying it was like Armageddon over there with people pulling their annexes down and trying to keep things secure. They had expected to return to their campsite being obliterated! But no, it was calm over this side thankfully.
The sky turned black and then orange as the continual lightening flashed around and thunder cracked and boomed across the sky. I love storms, and this was one of the best I’ve ever seen! The rain held off until we were almost done eating dinner and it was a bit of a mad rush to close up the back of the car and drop the legs of the awning so the rain that was pooling up could run off into the sand.
We had to wait for the rain to stop before drying off, dusting the sand off our feet and climbing into the rooftop, so we watched a movie. It was perfect timing as the movie ended at the exact same time that the rain stopped.
I woke at 2:05 to the sound of rain belting down on the roof, and the side of the tent pushing into my back as the wind howled around us. The winds had changed direction to South, South Easterly as predicted which meant that the Main Beach side of the island was no longer sheltered. When we got up the next morning, it was obvious that our decision to move to Flinders was a good one.
We tidied up what we could before moving our chairs to the other side of the car to eat brekkie. As I was about to take the last few mouthfuls, Chris (who is the fastest eater on the planet and was already washing his dish) told me to hurry up and help him pack. When I looked out across the ocean, I could see why! The dark clouds and rain were coming heavy and fast.
We packed up as quickly as we could but forgetting to put the ladder into the rooftop meant we had to open it a second time to slide the ladder in, and then it wouldn’t close so we had to open it up again to take a pillow out. Even with this little mishap we managed to get everything sorted before the rain hit.
All around us tents were bending and giving way, people were scrambling to catch flying gazebos and dogs were running around spooked. We exited down the access track past a lady who was holding onto her toilet tent for dear life!
The rain started to fall as we drove down the beach, onto the sealed roads and into Point Lookout where we stopped so Chris could get a coffee.
Chillers is a great little café with gluten free and dairy free options (yay!) so we stayed for a while, grabbed a bite to eat and watched the storm clouds roll in.
The sky got darker as we left Chillers and headed to the Bowls Club to have a wander through the local markets. There were a few stalls outside and some inside – I knew where I’d rather be! One of the stall holders who was set up selling t-shirts outside was having a laugh with the lady next to her saying her hubby had sent a screenshot of the BOM radar and a laughing emoji. Yes, we all knew that some serious wet weather was about to come our way! Still, moods were high and plenty of people were wandering through.
There were some amazing paintings for sale, old records, used clothes, kids toys, local honey, and lots of other fun and quirky things. I loved the stand that was selling bags that were ‘handmade in Indonesia from waste collected by trash pickers’.
We walked away with a Straddie stubby cooler (as we’d left all of ours in the caravan).
We were almost done when the rain started to fall; Chris wanted to wait it out, but I wanted to make a run for it. As soon as the rain lightened up we raced to the car and made it just before the torrential downpour began. Chris was pleased as this meant a lot of the sand would be washed off the Hilux.
We went to Foodworks to grab a few things and as we were driving down the road, I caught a glimpse of the storm pushing in across the ocean and I desperately wanted to stop and take a few pics. Chris kept driving, eventually stopping at Headland Park telling me the views were just as good from there.
He wasn’t wrong, but this meant I had to go on a bit of a hike in my thongs in the rain and gusty winds down a windy path, up some stairs to the viewing platform. I’m always up for a bit of an adventure so I set off to snap some pics. Once I got there I recognised the place immediately. It was where he’d brought me all those years ago and we had seen wales and turtles! While there was definitely no whale watching going on this time, the grey clouds and stormy ocean made for a pretty spectacular view. I snapped a few pics and raced back to the car.
We went to Amity Point Jetty and sat and watched the storm out on the ocean, grabbed some fish and chips for lunch, went back and watched the storm some more (well, I did while Chris had a snooze), and then we headed to Adder Rock Campground for showers.
We had paid $10 extra with our camping fees to use the showers, and man – what a rip off! We had to push a button to ‘turn the water on’ and by the time I’d taken my clothes off and hung my towel, the water had shut off already. So, I had to wrap my towel around me and head back out to push the button again.By the time I’d gone back into my cubicle, the drain also blocked and filling quickly with other people’s dirty water.
The showers were full, and everyone was complaining about the cold water and how it was cutting out before they were done. I had goose bumps while I was showering which resulted in my legs being completely hacked by my razor, and lots of blood. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.
I met Chris back at the car and he’d had a similar experience, minus the bleeding legs!
We headed down Flinders Beach to our campsite, a lovely little spot right on the water, far away from the winds that we knew were smashing the other side of the island.
There was quite a bit of space between campsites here too which definitely wasn’t the case at some of the other campgrounds. It looked like the tents were peg to peg in some places! I guess it’s to be expected on a long weekend taking place at the beginning of the second week of school holidays.
We set up camp, relaxed, had a few beers and cooked dinner before heading up into the rooftop for the night.
We (I) only had one ‘incident’ during the night when during our ‘pee break’ about 2 am we climbed down from the rooftop to be greeted by grunting and ‘squealing’ from the GROUND! So we (I) had a little panic and thought PIG (I think I’m permanently traumatised from the pigs at our campsite up in Cooktown) – when in fact it was just a koala as Chris continued to assure me.
To reassure me, Chris shined the light on 2 sparkling little eyes and we watched as her fluffy butt bounced back into the bush.She was cute and I’m pretty sure it was the koala we saw near here yesterday. Chris has named her ‘K-Lo’ as she has a big butt.
The next sound we heard was birds chirping, and as I unzipped the window I could see the sun rising over the ocean, hardly a cloud to be seen.
It was bacon, eggs and all sorts of other deliciousness for breakfast as we sat and took in the serenity of the place. The trees were fairly still, the sky was blue, and the ocean was a sparkling turquoise. We decided that as much as we loved our spot, we wanted to head off and explore a little, so we packed up and went for a drive.
We started at Chillers café grabbing another cappuccino and chai latte, both made with coconut milk, because they are insanely good. We can’t figure out why other cafés can’t make their drinks taste this amazing.
We parked the car and were about to head off when Chris noticed some wetsuits hanging in a gazebo out front of the surf shop. A couple of hundred dollars later we headed off on our walk (as usual).
We had come back to the lookout I was at in the crazy weather less than 24 hours before, and it felt like an entirely different place – much more like I remembered from our trip all those years ago. Magnificent views kept our cameras busy as we wandered along the boardwalk and ventured down the cliffs.
After about an hour we headed into the bakery to grab some lunch before heading back to Flinders to see if our campsite was still available. It wasn’t, but that’s OK because we found an even better one! Within 8 minutes we were set up once again and having a beer.
We went down to the beach for a few hours which was incredible, aside from the occasional gusts of wind that blew sand all over us.
The one thing I will never forget was when I was sitting in my chair and Chris was lying on his belly on his towel facing me. He said, ‘Crazy wind thingy!!’ and pointed behind me. I turned and could see a whirlwind of sand heading straight for us!
I held up my magazine and took cover and watched Chris get completely hammered. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages!
We had showers at about 3:30, and no, we didn’t return to the caravan park that we had paid to use.
We used our camp shower and even though the water was luke-warm, it was still better. Besides, who doesn’t like stripping naked and showering at the beach? We were totally able to do this as our camp spot had nobody anywhere nearby at all. Over half the holiday makers had packed up and headed back home this morning, leaving us all the privacy we could ever want. Perfect!
The winds were pretty cold as we discovered when the sun disappeared behind the trees and the shadows crept over the sand. It was time to rug up and get dinner sorted.
We were all packed up and in bed by 7:00. We had plenty to keep us occupied, we just wanted to be out of the cold!
Our last sleep on the island was deep and we both woke up with the sun, feeling well rested. It was another big brekkie before our final pack up. We headed down to the beach for a while so Chris could surf, but the waves weren’t quite what he’d hoped for, so we headed back to Chillers Café for another round.
We drove back across the island to Dunwich where we pulled up, had something to eat and then lined up to board the Sea Breeze. The ferry was delayed by 15 minutes – we are guessing it was due to the windy weather and choppy seas.
We were sailing back across Moreton Bay by 12:30 and back in Cleveland a bit after 1:00. We had a great time on the island and have vowed to get back over to Straddie again sooner rather than later, regardless of what the forecast says!